Why explanations? Fundamental, and less fundamental ways of understanding the world

Theoria 72 (1):23-59 (2006)

Abstract

. My main claim is that explanations are fundamentally about relations between concepts and not, for example, essentially requiring laws, causes, or particular initial conditions. Nor is their linguistic form essential. I begin by showing that this approach solves some well-known old problems and then proceeds to argue my case using heuristic analogies with mathematical proofs. I find that an explanation is something that connects explanandum and explanans by apprehensible steps that penetrate into more fundamental levels than that of explanandum. This leads to a deeper discussion of what it means to be more fundamental. Although I am not able to give a general definition, I argue that linguistic entities and empirical concepts are usually not fundamental, much relying on the distinction between complete and depleted ideas or experiences.

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